Barrow County awarded grant

ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Friday that Barrow County will receive a $35,000 grant to help accelerate the process of earning Certified Work Ready Community status, a two-fold plan designed to improve the training and marketability of Georgia's work force.

The program's goal is to stimulate healthy economic growth all over the state.

A total of $840,000 in state grants is awarded to 24 counties - Baldwin, Barrow, Bartow, Bulloch, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dougherty, Elbert, Floyd, Greene, Harris, Jackson, Jenkins, Jones, Laurens, Oconee, Pike, Rockdale, Thomas, Walker, Walton, Ware and Wilkes.

Each county is expected to earn Certified Work Ready Community status within 18 months as a part of the grant requirements.

The Work Ready Certificate program for individuals gives employers documentation that each worker meets a minimum set of skill and education standards.

After taking an assessment test, workers will be assigned a numerical rating between one and seven, with seven being the PhD level, according to Tom Jennings, president of the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce.

Jobs will be assigned a numerical rating through a profile, Jennings said, allowing workers and job openings to be efficiently matched.

"There have been companies and applicants in the Macon area already on program," Jennings said.

Lanier Technical College in Winder is one of the state's 34 technical colleges that will administer the free assessments and provide training to those who need to upgrade their skills and education.

Lisa Maloof, executive director of Lanier Technical College, was unavailable for comment Friday.

To be classified as a Certified Work Ready Community, counties must show a commitment to improving high school graduation rates, maintain a certain percentage of graduates entering the work force and encourage workers and the unemployed to earn a Work Ready Certificate.